No. 23 Arizona State (2-0) at No. 5 Stanford (2-0)
Saturday, 7:30pm ET, FOX
The headline should be two ranked teams going at it early on in the Pa-12 season, unfortunately a group of officials and the end of last week's game between Wisconsin and Arizona State has overshadowed some of the talk heading toward this matchup.
ASU won the game in the record books and that is all that matters at the end of the day. What it did prove was that ASU isn't to be taken lightly to say the least. It also sets up a heck of a challenge for two teams that are now considered potential division winners.
A lot is on the line when these two meet in a nationally televised game on FOX network for their first conference game.
For ASU to Win: Taylor Kelly needs to be Taylor Kelly from last week. He was very impressive throwing the football against an untested Wisconsin secondary. Has he stopped throwing and completing back-shoulder fades yet? Stanford is strong up front and if the ASU offensive line keeps Kelly safe his arm is a big time weapon and the receiving Corp (minus some bad open field drops) showed they have some good chemistry together. If they can't get the vertical passing game going that will spell trouble for the Sun Devils' chances.
For Stanford to Win: The Cardinal need two things to happen, get a pass rush up front on defense and the same up front. ASU's defensive front got all sorts of pressure on Joel Stave last week and in order for Stanford to win they need to control the line of scrimmage for the power run game and to let Kevin Hogan do his thing. As long as the run game gets going things should be good to go for the Cardinal at home, but it is easier said than done. My suggestion would be to take the tape of the UW game and do what they did to open things up in the 2nd half—run horizontal and make the ASU defense worry about the edges, it opened up the middle of the field for the passing game and slowed the rush a bit.
Key Player (ASU): Marlon Grice, plain and simple. He had four touchdowns last week against the Badgers and if he can get going on Saturday afternoon on the ground it is just another weapon to this already dangerous offense. The only thing that wasn't so great was that he only had 88 yards on 22 carries last week. Yes, the four touchdowns were nice, but averaging under 4 yards a carry with that many carries isn't going to cut it when your passing game isn't working to perfection either. Grice has to have a bigger game in terms of yards this week for ASU to have a chance on the road.
Key Player (Stanford): Wide Receiver Ty Montgomery has broken out a bit through the first two games and has 10 receptions in the early season. Montgomery needs to have a big game on Saturday and that means getting open early against a secondary that has played pretty well despite some youth. What the ASU defensive backfield showed last week was a small trend for missing open field tackles and Montgomery can be a slippery receiver in the open field as well. Hogan and Montgomery getting together to any significant degree
Key Stat: 10 or 5 - Someone is going to have their winning streak snapped on Saturday night in Palo Alto as Stanford comes in winning 10 games in a row and ASU 5 (yes, I'm counting last week even if in reality there was no winner-thanks refs).